Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Retracing the Bike Adventure, Part 2: John Brown Canyon and into Moab

See Part 1 of this adventure here

I thought that this rock formation in the canyon looked a lot like the now-fallen Old Man of the Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

After our lunch at the Gateway Canyons Resort in Gateway, Colorado, we started up John Brown Canyon. I had heard so much about this part of the mountain biking trip, and everything I heard was true. It was grueling, it was all uphill, and it was exhausting. And this was taking the ride in the comfy passenger seat of our Prius, and I didn't even have to drive!

This was the view at the top, or what I thought was the top of the road. As Beez pointed out, though, the road just never stopped going up, up, and up some more. 

Dinosaur tracks from an unmarked trail off to the side

This is the little car that could.

This shot is to give you the sense of the immense drop-off on the side of the road. I couldn't get my foot to go out any closer to the edge. 

I hope that this shot gives a better idea of the drop at this point. 
Looking down toward Monument Valley, Utah.

I have no photos for the next part of the journey, but it is certainly engraved in my memory. The road finally started going down but, if anything, it was far worse than going up. Picture a very narrow and twisty dirt road, covered with slippery gravel and broken rocks, with our Toyota inching along through the blind curves. To our right the road was overhung by those red cliffs that break off in car- and house-sized chunks. On the left side of the car, the cliffs fell off for what looked (to me) like thousands of feet. I couldn't see the bottom.

By the time I was thinking that perhaps we should turn back, there was no longer any place to turn around. I wondered what would happen if we went over the edge and later read about a hiker in the canyon who found a smashed truck and the body of a man who had been missing for 26 years (that story can be seen here). 

We eventually found ourselves winding through fantastically-shaped red rocks on the outskirts of Moab. Moab was the end-point of the big bike ride, and I shared some of the mixed feelings of regret and relief the bike riders must have felt at the end of their grueling journey. The 215 miles of trails they had traveled were amazingly beautiful and crushingly challenging for them. I have a huge appreciation for their accomplishment!

We spent a relaxing evening in town, had breakfast at the Moab Diner ("the best green chile in Utah", and it was!), then headed out on the road for home.

Good-bye to Moab

The last of the red cliffs of Utah

Approaching New Mexico, and a new landscape appears

Another blurry photo taken on the fly


Jean (aka Auntie Bucksnort) said...

Such beautiful colors and such clear skies! Did the dinosaur step in soft lava?

clairz said...

I think it stepped in soft mud which then hardened, turned to rock, and got covered up, Eventually erosion exposed the footprints once again. When you see them you wonder how many other fossilized footprints you might have walked over during your lifetime!

charlotte g said...

Your travels somewhat assuage my desire to do the same with your beautiful pictures. And you got closer to the dropoff than I probably could do!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh gosh Clair! We thought we were having a huge adventure when we let our Jeep-driving son take us up some of those trails. (I just kept remembering all the adventures we had teaching him to drive and now, years later, was trusting my life to him ;>).)

You guys (both of you) have that adventure beat all to heck!

Isn't it such beautiful country? Your pictures are great -- We thought Moab as interesting in its way as the two National Parks which we visited on that same trip.

I probably shouldn't mention (don't tell your husband) but we did talk to several people who were biking up the Dalton Trail and they were loving it .... :(feel free delete this)